A PLACE to remember and allow people to reflect on the devastating consequences of the past 11 months was one of the hopes of The Herald memorial garden campaign.

Coronavirus has torn through families and left loved ones grieving during unprecedented times. And our vision was to create a memorial garden as a tribute to the thousands of Scots who have lost their lives to covid.

Just days after the campaign launched, Glasgow City Council offered us a site in the grounds of the stunning Pollok Country Park with the project gaining widespread support. A public fund has so far raised more than £42,000 towards the project.

However, through our developing partnerships, there is now the potential for the memorial to be one of national significance stretching out to communities across Scotland.

Read more: Glasgow West End restaurant forced to close after revamp pivots in response to lockdown

A dedicated steering group set up to drive the campaign forward has reached out to groups working in areas such as the arts and communities to look at how the idea of a memorial garden can spread to throughout Scotland.

Donald Martin, editor-in- chief of The Herald and Herald on Sunday, said: “We are acutely aware that this pandemic has left its mark on the lives of people across Scotland. Our vision is to create a suitable memorial in Pollok Country Park, but through the work of the steering group it is hoped it could have the potential to cause a ripple effect across the country. In time communities will want to remember those who have died and perhaps what stems from Pollok Park could be developed elsewhere in the country.”

Connie McCready in Pollok Park supports the memorial garden campaign after losing her fiance Jim Russell to covid. Picture Gordon Terris.

Connie McCready in Pollok Park supports the memorial garden campaign after losing her fiance Jim Russell to covid. Picture Gordon Terris.

The memorial garden campaign has been working closely with Greenspace Scotland, Scotland’s national parks and greenspace charity. It has allowed us to open up conversations with arts charity Creative Scotland, NHS Great Glasgow and Clyde from the health sector and charity Glasgow Life – which manages Glasgow's culture and sports facilities on the city council’s behalf.

Julie Procter, chief executive of Greenspace Scotland, and steering group member, said: “In our national role that involves working together so that everyone in Scotland can enjoy their greenspaces, we have been in touch with Creative Scotland, Scottish Civic Trust, Council of Ethnic Minority Voluntary Sector Organisations (CEMVO), NHS colleagues, as well as local organisations like Village Storytelling Centre, so that there a range of voices contributing to the National Memorial project. We hope this could inspire and enable communities across the country to make the most of their greenspaces, whilst also framing some space for solace and reflection at this most difficult of times.”

Enthusiasm for the campaign continues to grow and we are delighted to have cross-party and multi-faith support.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said “COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on individuals and families across Scotland and it is only right that we, as a country, commemorate those who lost their lives in the pandemic. As the First Minister has said previously, the memorial garden proposal is one she is instinctively supportive of, but it is important that there is some discussion and consultation with families who have been affected to get a sense of what their preferred symbol of remembrance would be.”

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said: “Far too many lives have been cut short by this awful virus and a form of national remembrance sounds entirely proper.

“Those who have lost loved ones will appreciate the creation of a physical memorial as a place to reflect and remember."

While Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: “Across Scotland, people have experienced immense trauma and grief. I hope that everyone will support these efforts to mark this collective outpouring. We must not forget those who have lost their lives to the virus, nor the hard work and sacrifice of all those who have worked to keep us safe over the past year.”

Read more: Judy Murray reveals £4,500 facial treatment after tennis aces sons dubbed her 'turkey neck'

Scottish Labour MSP for Glasgow Pauline McNeill said the memorial garden is a wonderful initiative and a testament to the compassion and community spirit Scots have shown during the pandemic.

“Glasgow City Council is to be commended for donating space in Pollok Country Park for the garden, along with the involvement of leading horticulturists and the hard-working steering group who are helping drive the project forward.

“I urge people to support the Herald in achieving its target for the garden. The pandemic has been devastating for the country and this garden is a fitting way to remember those we lost to Covid.”

Omar Afzal, head of Mosques & Communities, at the Muslim Council of Scotland, the pandemic has been an incredibly challenging time for all of Scotland’s communities.

“Dealing with bereavement and loss has been so difficult under the circumstances, as families have not been able to grieve or send off loved ones as they would have wanted,” he said. “The memorial garden is a poignant tribute for those families and will serve as a place of reflection, commemoration and hope for us all.”

The lives of Scots who died from coronavirus will be remembered in the memorial garden

The lives of Scots who died from coronavirus will be remembered in the memorial garden

Surjit Singh Chowdhary MBE, President of central Gurdwara Singh Sabha, Glasgow, said: “Glasgow is blessed with many communities, all bound by a strong sense of storytelling, empathy and camaraderie. Glasgow’s Sikh community has been represented on the frontline and in amongst wider society, where we have toiled together to help limit the impact of covid. I can see this work continuing long into the future, to include working together on initiatives like the memorial gardens, which may help with the inevitable tsunami of mental health and grief we will see.”

Rev Dr George Whyte, Principal Clerk of the General Assembly, said: “There will be a need to remember the scale of the tragedy and to provide occasions and places where families and friends can properly mark, remember and celebrate their own loved ones.

“At a national level, the Church has already been involved in conversations about an appropriate act of remembrance and all around the country there are discussions about how memorial services might be held when conditions allow.”

To donate go to: gofundme.com/ herald-garden-of-remembrance. You can also send donations via post to The Herald Garden of Remembrance Campaign, Herald & Times, 125 Fullarton Drive, Glasgow, G32 8FG. If you can help email memorialgarden@theherald.co.uk Keep up to date with the latest news at www.heraldscotland.com/campaigns/memorial-garden/